If you’re a fan of graphic novels and comics, you’ll appreciate this exhibit currently on at Peel Art Gallery Museum & Archives.

The exhibit, For a Social Cause, brings together three disparate graphic novels to explore how this genre has been used to raise awareness about the human condition. Poignant and sequenced illustrations tell tales of strife, triumph and loss that convey moral lessons to those who pay attention. 

“All three works are cleverly executed relying on the power of images — one strategically and successively linked to the next — to communicate serious social messages, and act as a warning to the repercussions of adverse human actions,” says PAMA Curator, Sharona Adamowicz-Clements

The exhibit features works from three graphic novelists — British Columbia-based Indigenous artist Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas, Brampton-based graphic novel writer Ricky Lima, and Canadian artist Laurence Hyde.

British Columbia-based Indigenous artist Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas invents a new visual language in his 2008 large scale watercolour and ink masterpiece RED: A Haida Manga, turned graphic novel in 2009.

RED is a tale about an obsessive warrior-leader scared and driven by vengeance after the kidnapping of his sister Jaada. Unable to forgive or forget, he goes on a violent quest in hopes of reuniting with a lost loved one and punishing the offender. His actions exact a heavy price on himself and others.

Brampton’s own graphic novel writer Ricky Lima and graphic artist Nicolas Londeix bring a modern twist to a conventional narrative of romantic conquest in Happily Ever Aftr. Two heroines must navigate the troubled waters of family pressure, kidnapping and boredom on their journey to self-realization and self-fulfilment.

Combining digital art with humorous puns, this scripted comic book brings issues of women’s empowerment, sexual identity and social expectations to the forefront.

The last piece in the exhibit is a bit of a throwback. Laurence Hyde is the creator of a 1951 wordless graphic novel called Southern Cross: A Novel of the South Seas. Hyde created 118 self-contained prints for his graphic novel using the wood engraving technique, according to Peel Art Gallery.

The dramatic black and white impressions effectively represent the tragic story of a young family trapped alone on a remote, South Pacific island during an atomic bomb testing, alluding to the unthinkable aftermath of such a horrific act.

Check out the full exhibit and see these graphic novels for yourself at Peel Art Gallery Museum & Archives from now until October 13.

Feature Image – Happily Ever Aftr by Ricky Lima & Nicolas Londeix


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